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Newspapers remain the trusted source for news, advertising

Today's front page has no news on it. Subscribers already know that, of course, because it's quite possible they gasped when they unfurled this edition on their doorstep.

No news, no stories, no compelling photos. And that's the point.

For those who are shocked or disappointed, let that feeling sink in for a moment, because this is what would exist every day in a community without a newspaper.

Today is Whiteout Day, and more than 200 newspapers in Minnesota, including the Enterprise, are marking the day by not marking our front pages with words, stories, photos and news. The effort is being held in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of the Minnesota Newspaper Association and the idea is to bring attention to the value of local journalism and the work that goes into producing it.

We hear all the time how our newspaper must serve as a watchdog, and we do that the best we can. It's more than that though, it's more about informing the public and sharing stories about us as a community. From public meetings to sports to city projects to social initiatives, to school news, major arrests, and all the stories about people in between. And yes, unfortunately, at times we're responsible for bringing tragic news to our readers. In all these cases we strive to be fair, accurate and display objectivity in our reporting and storytelling.

Nobody covers local events and festivals like we do through our reporters' stories and photographs. That is the value of print journalism. It's opening up that sports page and seeing great photos of our kids in action, or the reading club photo, 4th of July parade, fireworks, concerts, plays, Water Wars, the list goes on and on. That's what we produce each and every week and that's the stuff that gets clipped out of the paper and hung on the refrigerator before making it into a scrap book.

Imagine what it would be like without a community newspaper. Where would residents turn for reliable information? Facebook? Twitter? Snapchat?

We all know those sites are great for sharing photos and family anecdotes, but they cannot compete with a local newspaper for sound professional journalism and advertising trustworthiness.

According to the marketing and research institute MarketingSherpa, print ads are the most trusted advertising channel when consumers want to make a purchase decision. A survey released in January asked 2,400 consumers what medium they trust most when making a purchase decision. The top source—according to 82 percent of respondents—was newspapers and magazines.

We depend on our local advertisers to help support your community newspaper. We have many loyal advertisers who recognize the importance of community journalism and the thousands of households these print and online ads reach each week.

So often, we hear this or that about the merits of social media, and especially from advertisers who migrate there for cost-savings. Whether it's advertising on that platform or so-called "news" on social media, we say this: You get exactly what you pay for.

Meanwhile, we also inevitably hear from so many people who ask us to look into suspected wrongdoing or to write about a child's great accomplishment or to spread the word about some expansion of a local business. And we do it.

We do all of those things because our goal is to chronicle the happenings of the community.

Even those who choose not to subscribe to this newspaper still know where to find us, and they still look to us for vital community information when they need it.

We maintain a 24/7 website and also have a cost-friendly e-subscription program that looks just like our print version. And, yes, we even post news on social media.

Politicians and public speakers quote us, other media take from us and coffee groups critique us, every day.

If newspapers go away, who's going to report on our local city councils, school board and county commission? Who's going to alert residents about new taxes? Or document public spending? Or follow our hometown sports teams?

Facebook?

While you contemplate our blank front page today, consider that.

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